Recently in Films & Books Category

United Nations Film: Cyprus, the Disappeared

You might be interested to view this short film on the topic of the "disappeared" in Cyprus. The history and viewpoint are less thorough than I would like, but it will introduce you to some tragic events. Remember that the film was produced by the UN; it is therefore politically correct and avoids difficult topics. In the end, it's a fairly sterile, if informative piece.

Film Suggestions

Some of you might want to watch a film or two about Greece or set in Greece.

Ποτέ Την Κυριακή (Never on a Sunday) (1960)
A great movie! This international classic was nominated for several Oscars. Melina Mercouri portrays Ilya, a strong-willed and independent prostitute, who loves easily and deeply but refuses to be controlled. The film captures breathtaking images of Athens and Piraeus including an unforgettable scene at the Acropolis. Bouzouki music and Greek dance feature significantly. If you're going to see one movie before going to Greece, this is a good choice!
Language: Greek with English subtitles

Zorba the Greek (1964)
A magnificent film based on the classic book by Nikos Kazantzakis. Anthony Quinn's portrayal of Alexis Zorba, an ebullient Cretan who enjoys life, dancing, women and drink earned him an Oscar nomination. The director, Michael Cacoyannis (Cypriot) was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. No self-respecting Hellenophile (look it up) should miss this film!
Language: English

Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus (1975)
This documentary chronicles the events of 1974 and was directed by Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis (director of Zorba the Greek).
Review by Marco Vincent:
"The...invasion is documented from the intentional integration of a variety of local perspectives. By beginning with Makarios' palace attack, and following with the spillage of violence into the streets on 'The Day of Shame,' [the audience] witnessed political turmoil's instantaneous effect... Each tale is from various areas [and societies] of Cyprus.... The film was ...very powerful. I am certainly initially interested in the sources or roots between the young, old, proud, and broken. How do these facets emerge from within Cyprus' districts, areas, and classes. I wish to understand the deeper political and patriot shifts of the deeper past, which collected to collapse into ruins. How deep does this Atilla line stretch into present day in various areas?"

Shirley Valentine (1989)
Hilarious! But, this film might be categorized as a 'chick flick'. Shirley Valentine is an unhappy and bored housewife in Liverpool who wins a vacation to a Mykonos, a Greek island. The trip transforms her life! I loved it. The scenes of the sea are gorgeous, but you won't learn much about Greece, except the common stereotypes. Also nominated for an Oscar.
Language: English

Mediterraneo (1991)
Very good! Mediterraneo is a poignant comedy that tells the story of a company of Italian soldiers who 'occupy' a Greek island during World War II. The island (filmed on Kastellorizo) is populated by women and old men because all the young men are away fighting; each Italian soldier must find his own way to adapt to his new reality. Mediterraneo won an Oscar for Best Foregin Language Film.
Language: Italian with English subtitles

The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Based on a book of the same title, The Guns of Navarone tells the story of a crack military team sent by the British to disarm German soldiers who have built a powerful missile on the seemingly impregnable island of Navarone. Good story, well told. Parts of the film were shot on the island of Rhodes.
Language: English

Z (1969)
Z is a political thriller based on the real-life assassination of Gregarios Lambrakis. The film follows an investigation to the highest levels of government to discover the plot to kill the leftist doctor.
Language: French with English subtitles

Mamma Mia! (2008)
Totally silly plot and film! But, much of it was filmed on Skopelos, and the film captures the beauty of the Greek isles.
Language: Song!

My Life in Ruins (2009)
Totally ridiculous, but Nikos and I laughed and laughed. The film follows a Greek American tour guide through Greece with her misfit troupe of American tourists. Of course, she finds love along the way. Maybe I've spent too many summers with Americans in Greece, but I enjoyed this. Full of stereotypes and easy laughs, the film might be more fun after you return from Greece.
Language: English

Reading Suggestions

Some of you may be interested in doing a little reading before you leave for the M-term course. Or, maybe you'd like to bring some reading with you on the trip. I've made some suggestions below.

Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
A classic. The story follows an emotionally reserved, cerebral English businessman, who travels to Crete to oversee a mine and experience a new life. He meets a local Cretan, Alexis Zorba, who lives his life to the fullest and pursues happiness and enjoyment above all. Kazantzakis's beautiful renders Crete and its people in the period just before World War I, exploring emotional human issues including love, friendship, and death. The story is compelling and difficult to put down.

The Colossus of the Maroussi by Henry Miller
Henry Miller's Colossus of the Maroussi is more than a travel journal. Miller, the acclaimed author of Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn describes his travels through Greece in 1939-40, while weaving pieces of modern and ancient history. Through the books, we catch glimpses of a Greece that no longer exists; but more importantly, Miller breathes life into historical sites by beautifully narrating ancient events.
A nice review:

A Concise History of Greece by Richard Clogg
This in an excellent and dense history of Modern Greece. A Byzantine historian, Clogg's explanations are thorough and well-researched. The book will give you a strong sense of the political events that formed modern Greece and movements that have shaped the Greece you will experience this May.
Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
I have not read this, actually. The novel is set in Cephalonia, a Greek island during WWII. It follows a Greek doctor and his daughter, Pellagia, who becomes involved in a love affair with an Italian captain.

The Balkans: A Short History by Mark Mazower
Mazower, a professor of history at Columbia University, has written several histories of modern Greece, especially during and after World War II. In this book, he covers the entire region of the Balkans, explaining the complex military and political history that has shaped the regions today.

The Rough Guide to Greece
If you are going to purchase a guidebook to Greece, I would suggest this one. The history sections are fairly comprehensive (for a guide book) and the authors actually visit the sites each year to update the book.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell
In 1953-54, Lawrence Durrell, a English author, well-known for his books on Greek islands, lived in Cyprus. In Bitter Lemons, Durrell describes his experiences with Greeks, Turks, and the English during a particularly tense period, only six years before the English left Cyprus and the island became a sovereign nation. His descriptions of Cyprus are distincitly colonial, but are enchanting none-the-less. The book is an important historical record of Cyprus during the 1950s and serves to catalog British attitudes towards the island.

Journey into Cyprus by Colin Thubron
With only his hiking books and rucksack, Colin Thubron walked all over the island of Cyprus (over 600 miles) two decades after Durrell's stay. Thubron's book functions as the last comprehensive description of the island before the events of 1974, which divided the island in two. Again, Thubron's view is influenced by his status as an outsider and an Englishman, but the book is a powerful portrayal of an outsider's view of Cyprus, its monuments, and its people.

Rough Guide to Cyprus
Although the more recent issue of this guidebook has been abbreviated, it is still the most thorough general guide book to Cyprus. The history sections are rich and complex, and the authors handle thorny political issues well - by educating and, for the most part, staying neutral.

For more book suggestions on Cyprus, see



Cyprus on Film

Please take a look at this website. You can watch short films about and related to Cyprus. Most are produced in conjunction with the government of Cyprus.